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Dean Jhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03515254534444061855noreply@blogger.comBlogger937125
Updated: 15 min 11 sec ago

Important Reminders about Status Pages

November 28, 2014
We are one month into the Early Action application review process and that tends to be when people start getting nervous about their status pages. Here are a few of the most common questions and concerns with my notes about each.

1. My status is incomplete, but the only document missing is the mid-year report.
If you are admitted or deferred, you'll be required to submit your mid-year report. So that no one sees "complete" and never looks at their account again, the system keeps showing the incomplete status showing. If the mid-year report is the only thing on your "to-do" list, you are done for now and we are ready to work with your file.


2. I sent new test scores, but how do I know you have them?
Our system doesn't have date tags on your status page. Do verify that your test scores from a recent date were sent, you need to check with the SAT or ACT folks. They've been transferring scores electronically for years without major issues.


3. I see a "View Decision" link, but there's no decision when I click!
We are only one month into the review. With about 15,000 applications, this process is going to take a while. We won't have decisions finalized until January. We have always said that notification will be made by the end of January, but we'll notify early if we can. The "view decision" box shows up when your file moves into the reading pipeline. It doesn't mean we've reached a decision on your application yet.

In the paper days, there would be a 1-2 week lag between finalizing decisions and mailing letters (it takes quite some time to print all those letters, label envelopes, stuff envelopes, double check that the right letter is in the right envelope, and then send the letters to the mail room. These days, when we're done, we release!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We'll be back in the office on Monday if you need us.

Go Hoos!
CavDog guarding last year's turkey.

What are your "non-negotiables?"

November 14, 2014
The team that answers emails that arrive in our general email accounts shared a cute email with me yesterday. In case you didn't know, undergradadmission@virginia.edu is for general inquiries and uvaapplicationinfo@virginia.edu is for application questions and updates.


First of all, I want to address the mention of another school in that comment. It isn't a secret that most of you are applying to several schools. When I see another school mentioned in a message meant for UVa, it doesn't bother me at all.

Second, this brings up a larger point that I try to make to students who will be making a college decision in the near future. It's totally valid to have non-academic factors included in your college search. I tell students to go on their tours with 3-5 "non-negotiable" characteristics, beyond the academic ones, that they need a college to have. Maybe you love the atmosphere at a certain kind of sporting event or you want the opportunity to hike or fish near school. Maybe you are afraid of certain animals and don't want encounter them regularly on your way to class. I think that you are more apt to be engaged in the classroom when you feel comfortable and happy overall.

By the way, I haven't seen stray cats on the UVa Grounds. I wonder why...


#UVaPhotoContest

November 7, 2014
In case you aren't following me (@UVaDeanJ) or UVa (@theUniversityofVirginia) on Instagram, I thought I'd let you know about the UVa Photo Contest. Over 1,000 people have posted images taken around the UVa Grounds and given them the #UVaPhotoContest tag.

Entries will be judged by Alexis Ohanian ’05, the co-founder of Reddit. The U.Va. Magazine did a great profile of him. I'll be judging a few of the specialty catagories. The prizes are gift cards for the UVa Bookstore and UVa swag.

If you aren't entering, follow along!


Last year's winning photo

Five Post-Deadline Notes for Early Action Applicants

November 4, 2014
We are going to be processing documents that have come in for Early Action applications for a while, but I thought I'd go over a few things to keep in mind as we work on your files.

1. Applications are transferred from the Common App to our system once per day. Approximately five days after your file arrives in our system, you will receive an email from us with login credentials for our Student Information System (SIS).

2. When you log into the SIS for the first time, your status probably won't be current. Please don't worry about your status in SIS right now! Our staff is linking thousands of documents to applications right now. This can take some time. I'll let you know when we are done processing. Do not send duplicates of any item unless we contact you with a request.

3. We will email you from undergradadmission@virginia.edu or uvaapplicationinfo@virginia.edu about your application. It is extremely important that you read your email.

4. Once the mid-year report is the only thing left on your "to do" list, your file is ready for us to read! When your file moves into read to read status, you'll probably see a "View Decision" box appear at the bottom of the SIS Student Center. People always think this means we are already done reviewing their application. That box is built into SIS and we can't change it. I'm sorry to report that it doesn't mean your decision is finalized. That won't happen until January.

5. We are now moving into reading mode. Our staff is relatively small and our reading loads are large. As always, we will take turns serving "on call" duty, so if you have questions about your file or the process, you can call the main office number or email uvaapplicationinfo@virginia.edu with them.

Deadline Day Motivation

November 1, 2014
Some of you will be putting finishing touches on Early Action applications today and I thought I'd share a little inspiration. This is one of our Student Ambasadors, Sierra, checking her application status on her decision day.
I know this process can cause a lot of anxiety and uncertainty at times, but there will be cause to celebrate on the other side when some of the schools on your list make you offers of admission.

Hang in there and good luck!

Sending Resumes to UVa

October 31, 2014
I wrote a post with important notes for Early Action applicants this morning, but the amount of emails my colleagues and I got today that included resumes prompted me to write a second post.


With an applicant pool that is fairly large, the Common App is a wonderful thing. The formatting allows us to zero in on a student's information quickly. I think most people understand that this is why many schools like to use the Common App. It's Common.

The Common App lets colleges make some decisions about the questions/features they use. One of them is a resume upload function. The resume upload feature is turned OFF for UVa. I know that some really, really want us to see a resume or another activity chart, but please respect our process and use the Common App.

When you use the Common App's activity section to enter your information, a chart is created on my side of the application. I know exactly where to find all the pertinent information on that chart. Here's an early draft of what the activity section looks like. There have been a few changes, but you can get the idea...

An early draft of the activity page on the Common App

We really like how activities are organized in the Common App. We know where to look for the facts and we don't spend time sifting through extra information to get to the good stuff. Resumes tend to restate a lot of information that is presented elsewhere in the application.

Students have taken to emailing resumes because we don't offer the upload function. I got one the other day that was four pages long and the first two pages listed details about the same activity. It was as if the student whose activity sheet is above listed statistics about every game in which he had played. The detail provided (three years on varsity, elected caption) helps me understand the involvement far better than knowing a batting average does.

Keep it simple. Remember that schools ask for the things they need and they usually tell you the format they prefer. Use the activity section of the Common App. Do not email us a resume.

Five Common Concerns of Early Action Applicants

October 31, 2014

Early Action applicants, you have one more day to submit your applications! I thought I'd write one post to cover some of the most common worries that students have around deadline time.

1. The Early Action deadline for UVa is midnight on November 1st. That doesn't mean those of you who thought it was midnight tonight now have permission to procrastinate. Avoid submitting at the last minute since there are thousands of students applying to schools with November 1st deadlines who will also be submitting tomorrow. Give yourself a nice buffer just in case something goes wrong and you need some help from the Common App folks.


2.  Double check the type of application you are submitting.Every year, one or two students submit applications and forget that they designated them as Regular Decision. If you did that, we probably won't even touch your file for a couple months. Double check that you indicated that you are a first-year applicant submitting an Early Action application for the Fall 2015 term.


3. Contact Common App if you have trouble submitting. There is a help button on every single screen within the Common App's website. The admission officers at your schools aren't able to help with Common App issues. What's more, if there's a problem, the Common App team needs to know about it in case it is systemic.


4. Your UVa status page won't be current yet.We have two processes happening simultaneously right now: the January transfer process (their deadline was October 1) and the Early Action process. Our staff is processing documents as quickly as possible, but it will take a couple weeks for everything that has arrived to be checked in. If we are missing something from you after all the documents have been processed, we will be in touch! Just focus on getting your application submitted. Don't panic about your status page just yet. Please don't call or email admission officers to check on documents. We will be immersed in file review and can't sift through mail bins or stacks of documents that are being scanned.


5. Your application won't be "downloaded" on deadline day.Every year, we get frantic emails from students who submit before the deadline, but don't see their application as downloaded by their schools. Applications tend to be downloaded once per day and the download date is almost never the same as the date you submitted. No need to worry about that!



Here are a few blog posts that address some other things that might be on your mind. I'll be updating the posts from last year with some new thoughts in the coming weeks.
-All of the 2014-2015 first-year essay questions together
-Essay word length
-Essay formatting
-How we use demonstrated interest
-Sending Resumes to UVa
-About extracurricular activities

As a reminder, you do not need to rush your SAT scores to us at this time. As long as you get your request in to ETS before the deadline, we should be good.

Good luck, seniors!

To Rush or Not to Rush?

October 29, 2014
That title is a little wink to those who have already made it to the second essay question on the UVa part of the Common App. Let's get to the issue at hand.

In the last 24 hours, we have been inundated with emails and calls about sending SAT scores.

CavDog finds testing talk overwhelming
If you didn't send your scores already and you are applying under Early Action, send your scores ASAP using the standard delivery option. At this point, it is not worth $30 to rush your scores. We have enough files to read to keep us occupied until ETS can get those scores to us.

You do not have to rush October scores at this point. 
There will be a point when we will need you to rush your scores, but we will let you know when that time comes. 

Remember that our system is designed to only pull the best scores from each section of the tests for us to review. We don't see every section when we read your file, we just see the best scores across all administrations of the exams.

If you are one of the students from East Asia who got the "your scores aren't available" message when you logged into your ETS account yesterday, please know that we are aware of the situation (though we don't have any more information than you). We will review your scores whenever they arrive. You can still apply under Early Action.    



What Does Holistic Admission Mean?

October 28, 2014
Today is the day that the ETS folks delivered scores to those who took the SAT earlier this month. This day always unleashes a flurry of worried emails and comments from those who aren't happy with their scores. Then come the questions about how we "weigh" different components of the application.

I despise the word "weigh" almost as much as the word "quota" for two reasons. Maybe it's because they both imply that admission decisions are just based on a rubric. Plug in some numbers and *boom* the decision is made. In a way, it also ignores the fact that my colleagues and I spend five months of the year cloistered away, dedicating most of our waking moments to file review. Students don't want to be reduced to numbers and admission officers don't want the process reduced to them, either. The review is holistic.

Unfortunately, I've seen "holistic admission" twisted to the point that people start to think that volunteer work or being on the soccer team is on par with their academic work.The best way to effectively communicate what holistic admission looks like to me is to compare your application to a puzzle. In a holistic review, you look at all pieces of the applicant's puzzle together before you make your decision.


The largest, most central piece of your puzzle is your transcript. This shouldn't be a surprise since your transcript represents four years of academic development. I took a really bad jpeg of a puzzle and used my awesome skills to demonstrate this idea:

Aren't you impressed?
The other components of your file fall in around the four years of academic work you've been doing. I'm sure you can imagine the bigger pieces: recommendation letters bring the academic data to life and essays are where we get to hear your voice.
You get the picture. I don't have to keep coloring, right?
As we read, the puzzle comes together. All of the pieces are important, but they vary in size. The testing piece is a four-hour piece of your puzzle. It's obviously important because it contributes to the overall picture, but it is one component among many and there are other parts of the puzzle that are larger and take considerably longer to evaluate.

When you fixate on one of the smaller pieces it's as if you are trying to make a decision about taking a puzzle home with you based on seeing one corner of it. You wouldn't do that, right? The people who make puzzles put the complete picture on the box so you can make an informed decision about purchasing it.



If you are looking at test scores this evening, I hope you'll put things in perspective. Yes, testing is important. However, it doesn't overshadow or knock other parts of your file out of the way.

An Update about the Timing of SAT Score Reporting

October 23, 2014
The last time I wrote about test score reporting, the student's part of the SAT website didn't have any concrete information about how long it took the Educational Testing Service to send scores to colleges once a student requested a report. On the educator's part of the website, there was a note that it took five weeks for scores to be sent to us.
The five weeks didn't sit right with me. In this day and age, it shouldn't take that long to send something electronically. After all, you can register for the exams and be certain that you are confirmed for a date and location immediately. Why would it take so long to report scores?
While waiting for a college fair to start this morning, I was looking at my Twitter feed and saw a tweet from @OfficialSAT. I decided to send them a quick note.



They replied right away! 



So this is really great news! Of course, there's a big difference between 7 days and 14 days, especially when we are nine days from the deadline. I replied, suggesting that the SAT website be more clear - that the five week delay would be for scores sent internationally and by mail. Our friends at UGA chimed in, too.




I'm a little disappointed that the correct information is only provided once you place an order for a score report. It would be nicer to get the information on the website for all to see, but it's great that we have some new information coming directly from the Educational Testing Service.

I'll be editing my last post about this to point folks towards this update. 

Charlottesville: Your Home

October 22, 2014
Seeing this at the end of an intense travel season makes me very excited to be done in two days. I love my territories, but Charlottesville is home.

SAT Subject Test Score Reporting

October 14, 2014
When I was in high school, the SAT Subject Tests (or SAT IIs) were called the Achievement Tests. That term, in my mind, gave them a positive connotation. I was proud to have taken them...until I took the French test.

I considered myself a super star in French. I had natural language abilities and eagerly absorbed new vocabulary and grammar. When it came time to take the French Achievement Test, I was prepared, but still a little nervous, as most students who take standardized tests tend to be. I cruised through the first part of the test, but came to a stop when a reading passage was about a word I didn't know. I remember counting the questions below the passage and wondering how much of a hit my score would take if I bombed every one of them.

That night, I probably talked to everyone in my AP French class. We had all been in the same boat. On Monday morning, our French teacher told us that the word was archaic, which was probably why we hadn't come across it before.

Though I took other subject tests (back then, writing was a Subject Test and many top schools required it), the only test I remember is that French test. I hated seeing the score on my College Board score report and like many of you, I assumed that admission officers would zero in on that one score. I was so wrong! Here's the thing that most students don't realize: when we read a file, we are looking for reasons to admit an applicant, not deny them. I'm not saying that I think the admission officers who read my file ignored that French exam score, but I bet they didn't fixate on it the way I did.



Advice for Those Worried about the SAT Subject Tests:1. We strongly recommend, but don't require Subject Test scores for several reasons.  If a school you love strong recommends that you do something, try to do it. Try to get the Subjects Tests into your schedule.

2. If you take the Subject Tests, send your scores using the free reports. Waiting to see your scores before sending them will delay their arrival in our office.  These are one-hour exams and while they are interesting and helpful, they don't derail an application, so one not-so-great score is not going to negate all the great work you've been doing in other areas.

3. If you can't take the Subject Tests, let them go. There are only a couple more opportunities to take them if you are a senior. Since they aren't required, you won't be penalized if they aren't part of your application.


All About the Timing of Score Reporting

October 7, 2014
Sometimes I think that the ability to hit submit on an application on 11:59 PM on the night of a deadline (something we absolutely do not recommend!) has given some student the idea that every component of college applications can be submitted to schools at the last minute. When it comes to test scores, you need to send your score reports well in advance of deadlines.

Our official stance is that the last recommended test dates are in October for Early Action applicants and December for Regular Decision applicants. This is because it takes the test agencies several weeks to send your scores to your schools.

That's not to say you can't take the November and January tests. You just have to understand that your scores won't get to us for several weeks and we maybe have looked at your file a few times before the new scores arrive.

I completely understand the confusion. The note about the speed of test score delivery in the student part of the College Board website isn't very informative.






That's about as clear as a Matthew McConaughey car commercial.







Most schools get scores electrically. Our records system receives scores from the College Board every day and sometimes more than once per day at busy times of  year. If a score report matches an application that's already in our system, the file is updated pretty quickly.

Luckily, the SAT people put the estimated time that it takes to send scores on one of the pages for education professionals.







The College Board is saying it takes FIVE WEEKS to deliver scores to your colleges. If you are applying Early Action, send your scores now.

The ACT folks seem to be a little faster, delivering scores in about two weeks.







Of course, the testing agencies will gladly send your scores to colleges in just two days if you pay them a rush score fee. Try to avoid that by sending your scores well in advance of the deadlines.



A Short Week in NOVA

October 5, 2014
I'm about to start a quick trip to NOVA to make some more high school visits and I thought I'd share the schools I'll be visiting.

As I posted pictures from my first NOVA week, I received several comments asking me to visit other parts of the state. Admission officers from UVa will be visiting almost every public school in the state this season (and tons of private schools as well). If you haven't seen us in your area, keep an eye out for a visit in the coming weeks.

In the next few days, I'll be visiting:
Academy of Science
Briar Woods High School
Broad Run High School
Dominion High School
Park View High School
Potomac Falls High School
South Lakes High School
Westfield High School
Woodson High School

I'll be back in the area for one more week later this month.

If you are a student at one of the schools I'm visiting, I'm sure you know that there are procedures to follow for coming to the visit. I hope to see you there!